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The Government is introducing a more proportionate and targeted approach to school inspection, which releases the highest performing schools from the burden of routine full inspection by Ofsted and focuses inspection where it is most needed. Subject to parliamentary process, ‘outstanding’ mainstream primary and secondary schools, including Academy converters, will be given exemption from ‘section 5’ inspections, so long as they maintain their performance and the confidence of parents. For the time being, ‘outstanding’ special schools and pupil referral units will continue to be inspected due to the vulnerability of the pupils at these schools and the fact that there is less reliable data on which to risk assess them. But we are working with Ofsted to develop appropriate mechanisms to risk assess these schools effectively so that they may be considered for exemption in future.
We intend to streamline school inspection requirements from early 2012, reducing the 27 graded judgments currently in the school inspection framework to focus on four core areas:
The centrally prescribed self-evaluation form (SEF), which supports the current school inspection system, was removed in July 2011. Headteachers and governing bodies are now free to choose for themselves how best to evaluate their work.
The SEF was a lengthy document (over 45 pages) which most schools updated annually. It contained facts, figures and analysis, often duplicating information held elsewhere, and was used by Ofsted to inform decisions about inspection. Headteachers estimated that just updating the SEF took at least a working week for them and their school leadership team. Some schools even brought in paid consultants to advise on how to fill in the SEF.
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